1/3 of Sandy Victims are Still in Desperate Need of Help

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With Hurricane Joaquin baring down on us, we are coincidentally approaching the three year mark since Hurricane Sandy whipped through the Northeast in October 2012. What you may be surprised to learn is that a full 30% of homeowners affected by the 2012 storm are still in dire financial straights. Many are not yet able to live in their homes and are paying both the home mortgage and the cost of a rental so they have somewhere safe to stay.

The reason so many homeowners are still displaced this long after Sandy? Many insurance companies offered up piddly settlements and told homeowners to “rebuild.” The advice of NJ governor Chris Christie was to “rebuild now.” Because of the low ball insurance pay outs and a desire to get back into their homes, many homeowners dug into their savings and retirement funds to repair the damage done by Hurricane Sandy.

As if that weren’t bad enough, when FEMA finalized their new flood maps for the area, many of the homes that had been repaired were required to be elevated due to their proximity to the ocean. At that time, many homeowners threw up their hands with no idea how to pay for additional renovations.

These homes needed serious work in order to meet FEMA flood guidelines, so homeowners who did invest in the elevation renovations had to once again vacate their homes. The extended timeline for getting homes “up to par” after Sandy has caused missed mortgage payments as homeowners were forced to live (and pay for) rentals. Consequently, many of these homes’ lenders are moving toward foreclosure.

Of those people who are still dealing with severe financial distress, foreclosure (and potential bankruptcy) due to Hurricane Sandy, many are single parents, retirees, and economically challenged families who were struggling before Sandy hit.

There are two proposed bills (in Assembly and Senate) that are slated to be voted on by the end of 2015. These bills are aimed at banks and lenders who are foreclosing on vulnerable homeowners made even more vulnerable by a natural disaster. The goal of these bills is to keep banks from filing for foreclosure on Sandy affected homes that are enrolled in the RREM (Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation & Mitigation) program for at least 60 days after homeowners are able to move back in.

These proposed bills (if passed) will give homeowners a chance to bounce back – a full two months of “only” paying for one living space rather than a mortgage and a rental. If, after 60 days of moving back in, the homeowner is still delinquent on their mortgage, banks may then resume the foreclosure proceedings.

Although the bills are on the right track, there are still many homeowners who are not enrolled in RREM or LMI (Low & Moderate Income) programs. For example, in order to be enrolled in either of those programs, the property in question must be the homeowner’s primary residence. There are a plethora of damaged rental homes along the Jersey shore whose owners who can’t afford to make the necessary repairs, and because they don’t qualify for RREM or LMI, any new legislative acts won’t help them either.

If you’ve been affected by Hurricane Sandy or another natural disaster and your lender is attempting to foreclose on your property, know your rights. Don’t lose your home if you don’t want to! Find out how the right New Jersey foreclosure defense team can make all the difference in your quest to keep your home.

Image credit: DvidsHub (The damage shown was caused by Hurricane Sandy.)
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One Response to 1/3 of Sandy Victims are Still in Desperate Need of Help

  1. Pingback: Renters’ Insurance: Do You Really Need it? | Veitengruber Law

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